Puppy in a Box

Or ‘Emotional Roller Coaster’


It’s been an odd month. I’ve deleted and resurrected this post three times, trying to wrap my head around recent events…

Not sure where to start, so it will begin where I did: California in 1956. Young woman becomes pregnant with spawn of cad and a couple takes the baby girl (me) at birth. Young woman then marries and a couple of years later has another little girl, which she keeps.

I’m the puppy in the box, the one she gave away.

I’ve known my adopted status for most of my life and have felt every emotion you might expect.. especially gratitude for having the parents I did have, even though everything wasn’t always perfect.

Well, not long after I found my half-sister on Ancestry, I also discovered a picture of my birth mother. Taken in December 2015, she is standing next to my half-sister and they’re both smiling.

I look like her. Especially my silly eyebrows. I could look at that picture for hours and hours…

But there, right there amid the surprise and happiness, came anger. They were together and I was the puppy in the box nobody wanted.

I’m sure that giving me away was right for the both of us or she wouldn’t have done it…. but… I never felt abandoned until I saw her face.

I’ve been trying to contact my half-sister on Ancestry for six months… but she’s not been back to the site. I don’t want to upset anyone, let alone my birth mother… she must be in her 80’s and probably hasn’t thought about me in… oh, 60 years?!

So there’s that. I’m honestly trying to forget about it when.. cue birth father.

Ancestry updates my DNA matches and casually says ‘this is your father’. It’s not the man I was led to believe was my father, but it fits even better. And dammit, DNA is usually not wrong. He’s still alive and active on the site, with a full family tree (yay!) so I message him with the usual disclaimers and facts.

He says he knew someone by that name in 1956. And that’s it. That’s as far as he’s prepared to go.

Okay. It’s not like I expected a party and “welcome to the family”. I have a family.

Then I see a picture of him and now I know where I got my eyes.

So, back to the data. Ancestry.com is a treasure trove of information! I followed a line on my maternal side back to an Irish village with the O’Rourke (later Rourke and Roarke) clan in the 1700’s and read anecdotal information about those ancestors fighting for the Brits in the Revolutionary War, then switching sides to us. Guess they wanted to stay here.

Yesterday I went back to 1700’s Germany with the Fritsch and Leppert families. It’s like Disney World for adults, especially those of us who were adopted.

Just… wow.


6 thoughts on “Puppy in a Box

Add yours

  1. Hey Pam,
    I struggle with similar puppy in the box syndrome myself, the biological product of a married man almost 7 years older than mom who was an adventurous 16 year old who loved horses all her life.
    She gave me to her folks split the scene, when I was a month old, was in and out playing the role of big sister as was her younger sister grandma grandpa complicit in the illusion I was their natural born son…mom showed back up to take me when between 1st and 2nd grade new husband #2 a new baby sister, it was cool, mom and her husband worked for a horse trader I was around horses horse people it was a happy life…one day mom went shopping a few days later she was gone, she splt abandoning her family, I was shipped back to Grandma n Grandpa Dunn for about 6 years 8th grade I was back with her husband #3 another sister mom hated me, told me so, and that I had ruined her life…I believed her..sadly, bought into it.
    We moved to a little town full of racism the blacks out number the whites, no indigenous peoples or latins..
    Just a bunch of people hating on each other..I quit school 2nd day of my jr. year, mom kicked me out the same day.
    I left went to Ft. Worth joined the Navy on my 17th Birthday.
    It was weird growing up not ever knowing my sperm donor..
    Was given his US Army id April 2015.
    Maybe I’ll track down my dna one day.
    I have a little kid he’s 8 and a good wife..
    It thrills me this little kid has his mommy n daddy together, and am teaching him stuff I had to figure out on my own much later in life.


    1. Oh, Jeffrey… there are too many of us. My husband’s sperm donor left before he was born. It’s like a disease.
      Happy to hear you have your own wonderful family and choose to not be scarred by other people’s stupidity! Bless you and your wife and son. And thanks for sharing with me.


  2. This is heartbreaking to read!

    Here’s the thing: you’re not the puppy in a box. You never have been. You’re the precious gift to parents who needed and loved you, Pam. You’re the present Santa brought after months and years of letters. You’re the best gift ever!

    If growing up with them was sometimes challenging, no matter what may have been said or implied, it means you were so loved that they weren’t hiding behind a veil of “we’re going to be perfect parents and we need to impress you, the neighbors, and everyone else.” Nope. Life was unfolding for you and your adoptive family the way it unfolded for those of us who weren’t adopted but still had rough patches with our families. This is totally normal and it’s what happens in families.

    As for your biologicals, remember that a photograph is a miniscule slice of time! Probably 1/500 of a second. ANYONE can look happy and well-adjusted for that long. Perhaps what you see — beyond the familiar features — is just an illusion.

    While I can’t ever know what it’s like to be on your side of the equation, I can tell you that being a biological child to my mother and meeting my half-sister was both wonderful and confusing. Beth, my long lost sis, is lovely. She was adopted by people who loved her, raised her, and made her life occasionally a living hell. This all made her who she is today, which is a nice woman who is as flawed and complicated as any of us. I’m confused by some of her behavior, but my other two sisters befuddle me as well.

    And I know this: Beth dug into her background,too. Obviously, she found my mom. She’s met us. She stays in touch-ish. She also got the full story of her her conception (minus the sex details) and adoption from my our mother. I don’t know how it sits with her as she’s never spoken of it, but I’m assuming her ongoing communication with Mom means she’s accepted the facts and made peace with them (I do know that she was surprised by the details…they weren’t what she believed them to be).

    With her biological father, though, she has an incredibly different story. He was a serial philanderer, had so many kids with different women that B went from being an only child to being one of many, all of whom had this sperm donor who couldn’t keep it in his pants. She’s connected with a few of the other kids, but I think it’s become a situation in which you find yourself a member of a club nobody wants to be in.

    So, what am I saying? I’m saying that a photograph can only give you a micro second of a glimpse at someone, that finding the players doesn’t mean much more than having more puzzle pieces, and that you were a gift to someone who truly needed you. Make of that what you will. I hope you find peace in knowing your family was a FAMILY because of you, not in spite of you. And whatever the reason behind your biologicals’ actions, you’ve never been a puppy in a box.

    P. She. Jeffrey, I’m sorry for the yoyo-like life you lived with someone who obviously had little control over herself. I’m glad you’ve created a family YOU want and cherish. I hope that’s what gives you the contentment and joy and frustration and gray hairs that come with living a full life.


    1. Joanie, you always know just what to say! You’re right, of course, about everything. You are a wise woman, you know that, right??

      Hugs from gusty south Florida!!


      1. Aw, thanks. But I can only say this from my perspective. I don’t live in your skin or have your story. All I know is that your mom and dad must have really wanted you to go through the whole process of adoption, of raising you as best they could, and to have given you their hearts.

        Stay safe and dry!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: